SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church leaders announced Friday that all prospective missionaries, worldwide, will now answer a standardized list of questions in their interviews with priesthood leaders.
"For those preparing for missions, Church leaders have approved a standard set of interview questions to be asked of prospective missionaries uniformly across the world," according to statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released on Mormon Newsroom. "The hope is that each young man and woman will be familiar with them years before they formally prepare to serve so they have a more complete understanding of the rigorous requirements of missionary work."
The shift to standardized missionary interview questions was one of several missionary-related changes announced Friday. Other changes include trimming the number of missions to better fit the needs in specific regions of the world, replacing tablet with smartphones and increasing the use of technologies that help find people interested in religion.
For bishops and stake presidents, interviewing a prospective missionary is regarded as a sacred experience, "characterized by great love and the guidance of the Holy Ghost," according to a Church letter sent to local priesthood leaders.
"As prospective missionaries and their priesthood leaders counsel together, they will discern the ability and capacity of each individual to serve," the letter said.
The letter also noted that priesthood leaders should ensure that each prospective missionary and his or her parents or guardians receive and understand the requirements for full-time missionary service well in advance of the missionary candidate's interview.
"These questions do not represent any change in the standards for missionary service," the letter added.
Questions focus on a prospective missionary's faith in and testimony of God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost; repentance from past transgressions; and adherence to gospel standards. In addition a prospective missionary will be asked about his or her physical, mental, and emotional health; debt; and criminal history.
The Church also released responses to several anticipated questions about the standardized missionary questions:
Why is the Church providing a standardized list of questions for missionary interviews?
Church leaders want every missionary to have a spiritual and faith-building experience. Missionaries are most likely to experience success when they are worthy and physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service. The interview questions will help prospective missionaries gauge their own preparedness for missionary service. The questions will also allow prospective missionaries to have meaningful conversations about the qualifications for missionary service with their parents (in the cases of young prospective missionaries) and priesthood leaders.
Have the standards for missionary service changed?
No. These questions are being provided to Church leaders, parents, and youth so that the standards are understood prior to missionary service and so that prospective missionaries can prepare spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally for a mission.
Why are these questions different than for a temple recommend?
Many of the interview questions are similar to those asked in a standard temple recommend interview and are included to help priesthood leaders determine whether a prospective missionary is worthy to serve.
However, missionary service is far more physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding than is temple attendance. The additional questions help gauge the prospective missionary’s physical, mental, and emotional preparedness to serve.
Is this a worthiness interview or an eligibility interview?
Both. Personal worthiness is one qualification to serve a full-time mission. In addition, a missionary candidate needs to meet physical, mental and emotional qualifications in order to serve.
For Prospective Missionaries:
Do I need to speak with my bishop and stake president about sins for which I have already repented?
Your bishop and stake president want to help you make sure you are worthy, eligible, and ready for full-time missionary service. It is important to be open with them regarding past transgressions, even previously resolved ones, so that they can help you determine your spiritual preparedness to serve.
Will some serious sins keep me from serving a full-time mission?
It is possible that some serious sins may disqualify you, either temporarily or permanently, from serving a full-time mission. Because each situation is unique, be open and honest with your bishop and stake president. They will know how to guide you.
My bishop and stake president have no medical training. How do they determine whether I am physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to serve a mission?
As part of the recommendation process, you will be asked to receive a physical examination and a dental check. If mental or emotional issues need to be considered, your bishop or stake president may also ask you to visit with a mental health professional. Each medical or mental health professional who examines you will complete a medical form, and these forms will be submitted along with your missionary recommendation. Medical and mental health information included in the medical forms and gathered from the interview questions will be shared with and evaluated by medical and mental health professionals in the Missionary Department.
This information helps guide General Authorities in determining the best assignment opportunities for missionaries. In some situations, General Authorities may suggest that a missionary candidate consider serving a Church-service mission.
I have a condition that I believe may disqualify me from serving as a full-time missionary. Should I even consider serving a full-time mission?
Counsel with your bishop and stake president regarding your condition. They can help you better understand the physical, mental, and emotional requirements for missionary service. If you have questions that they are unable to answer, your stake president should contact the Missionary Department.
If I am unable to serve a full-time proselyting mission, what other opportunities are available for me?
If you are unable to serve in a proselyting assignment and desire to serve a mission, speak with your bishop and stake president. They can direct you to Church-service missionary assignments and other valuable opportunities for meaningful service.
What should I do to help my children prepare to serve a full-time mission?
Take an active role early in helping your children prepare for missionary service. Teach them about the qualifications for missionary service and encourage them to live those standards. You may want to use the information attached to the interview questions as topics for family home evening lessons and discussions. As your children begin to prepare for missionary service, be sure they understand the questions they will be asked in interviews with the bishop and stake president.
Contributing: Camille West, LDS.org